Ontario reports 1,228 new COVID-19 cases and 28 more deaths

Ontario reported 1,228 new cases of COVID-19 and 28 more deaths on Saturday. New cases include 331 in Toronto, 228 in Peel Region and 132 in York Region.

York Region doctor disappointed that area is moving out of lockdown on Monday

Medical staff on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic are pictured at North York General Hospital in May of 2020 as the province sees another 1,228 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario reported 1,228 new cases of COVID-19 and 28 new deaths on Saturday.

The new cases include 331 in Toronto, 228 in Peel Region and 132 in York Region, according to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott. 

The province's network of labs completed nearly 57,200 tests over the last 24 hours and recorded a test positivity rate of 2.2 per cent, Elliott said. 

Saturday is the third straight day in which daily case counts have topped 1,000. The seven-day rolling average now sits at 1,016, down from 1,167 last week. 

Since Friday at 8 p.m., the province said it has administered 540,129 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The new deaths, which include 11 among residents in long-term care homes, bring the province's total death toll to 6,848. 

The number of patients with COVID-19 in hospitals sits at 699. Of those people, 263 were being treated in intensive care and 181 require ventilators to breathe, according to the health ministry.

The number of resolved cases continues to outpace new infections, with 1,313 cases reported on Saturday. 

The new numbers come as York Region prepares to move into the red-control zone of the province's reopening framework on Monday. 

Toronto, Peel and the North Bay Parry Sound health unit will remain under a stay-at-home order for the next two weeks.

York doctor disappointed with reopening plan

As York Region prepares to move out of lockdown, a local doctor says he is disappointed and concerned about the decision to allow the region to enter the red-control zone.

Dr. Stephen Flindall, an emergency room doctor in York Region, says variants of concern are much more transmissible and are becoming more common in the population.

Flindall said the case of the Mississauga condo, in which a cluster of people tested positive for variants of concern, is evidence that reopening should be slow.

"In the case of the condominum in Mississauga, just casual contact has been enough to cause transmission versus the usual 15 minutes of close contact that you'd see with the standard COVID," he said in an interview on CBC's News Network on Saturday. 

"I just don't understand his eagerness to loosen restrictions at the moment," Flindall said of York Region's medical officer of health Dr. Karim Kurji.

On Friday, the province announced that Toronto, Peel and North Bay-Parry Sound would all remain under the stay-at-home-order until at least March 8, while York Region will be in the red-control zone as of 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 22.

Ontario has seen 386 cases of the B117 variant first detected in the United Kingdom as of Saturday. Nine cases of the variant first seen in South Africa, known as B.1.351, have also been identified in the province, along with one case of P.1, the variant first detected in Brazil, according to provincial numbers. 

Starting on Saturday, the province began to release new information about variants of concern across Ontario.

One day after top doctors for two of the three Ontario regions hardest hit by COVID-19 called on the province to extend the lockdown in their regions, Dr. Kurji called for the opposite. 

Flindall noted prior to the Christmas lockdown last year, Toronto's cases were rising and droves of people came up to York Region to shop.

"I don't think there's anything preventing a recurrence of that behaviour," he said.

Flindall said he is concerned that there is nothing to prevent people from Toronto and Peel Region, COVID-19 hot spots, from going to York Region.

With files from Sabrina Jonas, CBC News Network